March Madness: Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Arizona earn first-round wins

Loyola Chicago's Lucas Williamson, left, and Ohio State 's Jamari Wheeler scramble for the ball.
Loyola Chicago’s Lucas Williamson, left, and Ohio State ‘s Jamari Wheeler scramble for the ball. The seventh-seeded Buckeyes beat the 10th-seeded Ramblers 54-41.
(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)
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PITTSBURGH — E.J. Liddell scored 16 points, Big Ten freshman of the year Malaki Branham added 14, and seventh-seeded Ohio State shut down 10th-seeded Loyola Chicago from start to finish, winning 54-41 in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday.

The Buckeyes (20-11) advanced to play Villanova on Sunday in the South Regional while preventing another March run by the Ramblers (25-8), who shot 27% (15 for 56) from the field.

“We knew we were in for a rock fight, and that’s very much what it was,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said, calling it “the best defensive performance we’ve really had in a couple years.”


Braden Norris led Loyola with 14 points, but star Lucas Williamson endured perhaps his worst game of the season. The winningest player in program history finished with four points on one-for-10 shooting and committed three turnovers as Loyola fell in the first round after reaching the Sweet 16 last season and the Final Four in 2018.

“I mean, I’m disappointed in myself,” Williamson said. “I don’t feel like I played to the standard that I put myself at. But, yeah, I mean, like [coach] Drew [Valentine] said, kind of just at a loss for words. Kind of just stunned right now.”

Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, Loyola’s 102-year-old chaplain, led the Ramblers in a pregame prayer and took in the school’s third NCAA appearance in five years from the mezzanine but could only watch as Loyola — listed as a slight favorite by FanDuel Sportsbook, a nod to the program’s rise — fumbled away an opportunity to further cement its status as a mid-major power.

Ohio State came in having lost four of its last five games, including a baffling setback to lowly Penn State in the Big Ten tournament last week. The return of forward Kyle Young — who hadn’t played since March 8 because of a concussion — and Liddell’s steadiness helped the Buckeyes avoid a second straight early exit.

Loyola’s 41 points were a season low and the program’s fewest since scoring 39 against Indiana State in 2020. After hearing repeatedly about the Ramblers’ smothering defense, the Buckeyes provided some of their own.

“We love that type of challenge, and we just have to respond,” Young said. “So it was just about who is going to play more physical and tougher with 50-50 balls and things like that.”


While Williamson and company frustrated Liddell — holding him without a field goal in the first half — Loyola could muster little offensive flow as the Buckeyes swallowed up the lane in a game that made up for in intensity what it lacked in aesthetics.

Every Loyola drive to the rim was contested and every loose ball — and there were plenty in an opening half in which the teams combined for as many turnovers as made baskets (15) — seemed to end with Ohio State heading the other way.

Times college sports writer J. Brady McCollough makes his picks and predictions for every game in the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

March 16, 2021


No. 7 Michigan State 74, No. 10 Davidson 73

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Joey Hauser scored a career-high 27 points, and Michigan State edged Davidson in the NCAA tournament’s first round.

A.J. Hoggard added 14 points for the Spartans (23-12), the West Regional’s No. 7 seed. They had to wrestle away control of a tight game in the second half and then hang on against a desperate comeback push in the final seconds.

Michigan State used a 13-3 run to go ahead for good while allowing just one field goal over a critical six-minute second-half stretch, pushing the Spartans to their largest lead at 67-59 with a minute left.


Before the Spartans’ push, the teams had battled evenly with neither leading by more than six points.

The Wildcats (27-7) took the fight to the final minute even while getting tripped up by several quick — and sometimes borderline — whistles down the stretch.

They pulled to within 72-70 on a three-pointer from Foster Loyer, a transfer facing his former team, with 4.6 seconds left. Then, after Tyson Walker hit two free throws to put the margin back to four, Hyunjung Lee hit a desperation three for Davidson with a half-second left. Hoggard threw a long inbounds pass to Gabe Brown for a deep-ball catch that killed the last of the clock to finally clinch the win for Hall of Famer Tom Izzo’s Spartans.

Hauser carried a heavy offensive load for Michigan State, hitting his first eight shots before finishing nine for 12 from the field with four three-pointers.

Luka Brajkovic scored 18 points on eight-for-10 shooting to lead Davidson. Sam Mennenga added 15 points.


The Spartans will face second-seeded Duke, which beat Cal State Fullerton earlier Friday, in Sunday’s second round.

The confident and adversity-defeating Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball team sees its season end in a 78-61 loss to Duke in the NCAA tournament.

March 18, 2022


No. 11 Notre Dame 78, No. 6 Alabama 64

SAN DIEGO — Cormac Ryan scored a career-high 29 points, including seven three-pointers, and Notre Dame recovered from a grueling First Four win and a late-night flight.

Ryan, a senior guard, was 10 for 13 from the field and made a career-best seven of his nine tries from beyond the arc for Notre Dame (24-10), which beat Rutgers in double overtime Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio, to earn a trip to San Diego.

Blake Wesley had 18 points, while Paul Atkinson Jr. added 13 points and eight rebounds. The Fighting Irish missed six of their first seven shots but went 28 for 47 the rest of the way.

Keon Ellis led Alabama (19-14) with 16 points, and Jaden Shackelford scored 13. Junior guard Jahvon Quinerly suffered a left knee injury early in the game and did not return. His knee was in an immobilizing brace when he came back to the Crimson Tide bench.


After rallying from a double-digit deficit, seventh-seeded USC is unable to overcome a late surge by No. 10 Miami in a 68-66 NCAA tournament loss.

March 18, 2022

Notre Dame will play Texas Tech on Sunday in the second round of the West Region. The third-seeded Red Raiders breezed to a victory over Montana State earlier Friday.


No. 1 Arizona 87, No. 16 Wright State 70

SAN DIEGO — Christian Koloko scored 17 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and keyed a big second-half surge for Arizona, which beat Wright State.

Bennedict Mathurin scored 18 points and Dalen Terry had 16 for the Wildcats (32-3), who were cheered on by thousands of red-clad fans who made the drive from Tucson. Arizona won its seventh straight game and earned its first NCAA tournament win since beating St. Mary’s in the second round in 2017. First-year coach Tommy Lloyd, a longtime assistant at Gonzaga, has Arizona in the NCAAs for the first time since 2018.

Arizona advanced to face No. 9 Texas Christian in the South Regional.

Grant Basile scored 21 points and Trey Calvin had 16 for Wright State (22-14), which beat Bryant 93-82 in a First Four game not far from its campus in Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday night. The Raiders took a redeye flight to San Diego after their first NCAA tournament victory.

Arizona led by 16 points late in the first half and was up 42-31 at halftime before the undersized Raiders — 21½-point underdogs, according to FanDuel Sportsbook — pulled to within 49-42 on a three-pointer and a three-point play from Basile.


That woke up the Wildcats, who responded with a 15-2 run keyed by Koloko. The 7-foot-1 center from Cameroon had seven points in the run, including an alley-oop dunk, a hook shot and three free throws. Koloko, who had only four points in the first half, had two dunks in the final minutes of the game and finished with six assists.


No. 9 Texas Christian 69, No. 8 Seton Hall 42

SAN DIEGO — Mike Miles Jr. scored 21 points, and ninth-seeded Texas Christian got its first NCAA tournament victory in 35 years, easily dispatching Seton Hall.

The Horned Frogs’ last tournament win was in 1987 against Marshall, when coach Jamie Dixon was a senior at his alma mater. They haven’t had many opportunities since: This was their third appearance since 1988 and second in Dixon’s six seasons.

Damion Baugh scored 14 points for TCU, which shot 27 for 53 (50.9%) from the field and led most of the game. It also dominated inside, outscoring Seton Hall 40-14 in the paint.

The Horned Frogs (21-12) will take on the South Regional’s top seed, Arizona, on Sunday in the second round.


Jamir Harris and Myles Cale each scored 11 points for Seton Hall (21-11), which shot 28.8% from the field, its worst performance in an NCAA tournament game.

Jared Rhoden was held to four points and fouled out in what is likely his game for Seton Hall. The first-team All-Big East guard came into the game averaging 15.9 points.


No. 3 Wisconsin 67, No. 14 Colgate 60

MILWAUKEE — All-American guard Johnny Davis scored 25 points and sparked a second-half comeback as Wisconsin withstood Colgate’s three-point assault and beat the Raiders.

The Badgers (25-7) snapped Colgate’s 15-game winning streak and advanced to a second-round game Sunday against No. 11 seed Iowa State. The Cyclones defeated Louisiana State earlier Friday.

Davis had Wisconsin’s last 14 points and showed he is all the way back from the injured left ankle that knocked the Big Ten player of the year out of the Badgers’ regular-season finale. Davis returned for the Big Ten Tournament but shot three for 19 in a quarterfinal loss to Michigan State.


After shooting three for 11 in the first half, Davis caught fire when the Badgers needed him. They trailed by as many as five in the second half before going on a 10-0 run and holding Colgate scoreless for more than seven minutes.

Tyler Wahl added 15 points and nine rebounds for Wisconsin. Nelly Cummings scored 20 points and Tucker Richardson had 15 for Colgate (23-12), which shot 10 of 22 from three-point range to nearly spring the upset.

Colgate entered the night second in the nation in three-point percentage (.403) and 12th in three-pointers per game (9.9). And that attack sizzled in the second half as the Raiders threw a scare into the partisan crowd that formed a sea of red at Fiserv Forum, which sits about 80 miles east of Wisconsin’s campus.


No. 11 Iowa State 59, No. 6 Louisiana State 54

MILWAUKEE — Freshman Tyrese Hunter scored 23 points, and Iowa State made itself at home in Milwaukee once again, using its hard-nosed defense to beat Louisiana State.

Izaiah Brockington added 19 points as the Cyclones (21-12) got their first win in the NCAA tournament since 2017 — also in Milwaukee. They held the Tigers (22-12) to 37% shooting and forced 19 turnovers, stopping a three-game slide.


Hunter, who grew up in nearby Racine, Wis., made six of his seven three-pointers in the second half, sending coach T.J. Otzelberger to one sweet victory. The 44-year-old Otzelberger grew up in Milwaukee, went to Wisconsin-Whitewater and began his coaching career at Catholic Central High School in Burlington.

Otzelberger was hired after Iowa State won just two games last season. Now the Cyclones are into the second round of the Midwest Region, where they will face Wisconsin on Sunday.

Tari Eason scored 18 points for LSU, and senior Darius Days had 14. But they didn’t get much help.

It was the first game for the Tigers since coach Will Wade was fired last weekend amid allegations of NCAA violations. Associate head coach Bill Armstrong also was let go.

An LSU fan in the stands behind the team’s bench held up a sign that read “Win For WADE” as the game got started.


Kevin Nickelberry was elevated to interim coach, and the Tigers turned in their usual stellar effort on defense. But they struggled on the other side. The team also received a technical for having too many players on the court at one point in the second half.


No. 2 Auburn 80, No. 15 Jacksonville State 61

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Freshman Jabari Smith had 20 points and 14 rebounds as Auburn pulled away from Jacksonville State late in the first half to win its 10th straight NCAA tournament opener.

Walker Kessler, Smith’s partner in the paint, finished a block shy of a triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocks.

The Tigers (28-5) will face 10th-seeded Miami, which defeated seventh-seeded USC, on Sunday for a spot in the Sweet 16.

If Smith, the potential high NBA lottery pick, plays like he did Friday, Auburn will be hard to slow down.

Smith had four three-pointers, a couple from far behind the line. He ended his first tournament game with an emphatic, right-handed slam with just more than a minute to go as teammate Wendell Green Jr. covered his face in disbelief.

Auburn was on target from the outside. K.D. Johnson ended his shooting slump — he was 0 for 14 in a Southeastern Conference tournament quarterfinal loss to Texas A&M — and had 10 points and a couple of threes during a 17-3 that put the Tigers in control in the first half.

Jalen Gibbs, Division I’s fifth-leading three-point shooter coming in, hit his third long-range shot of the half to put the Gamecocks (21-11) up 24-22 about six minutes before the break. That’s when the Tigers got going.


No. 4 Illinois 54, No. 13 Chattanooga 53

PITTSBURGH — Alfonso Plummer scored 15 points, including the go-ahead free throws with 12 seconds to go, and Illinois escaped Chattanooga in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The Big Ten co-champion Illini (23-9) never led until the final minute and survived when Chattanooga star Malachi Smith missed twice in the closing seconds. His runner in the lane was swatted by Illinois’ Coleman Hawkins, and his pull-up jumper just before the clock expired clanged off the rim.

Illinois will play fifth-seeded Houston on Sunday in a South Regional second-round game.

Illinois All-American center Kofi Cockburn had 17 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. His putback gave the Illini a 52-51 lead with 48 seconds to go. Smith, the Southern Conference player of the year, responded by drilling a pair of free throws to put Chattanooga back in front.

Plummer, who hit three three-pointers to help Illinois climb back from an 11-point second-half deficit, drove the left side and was fouled. He knocked down both shots. Chattanooga (27-8), with Pro Football Hall of Fame alum Terrell Owens urging the Mocs on, declined to call a timeout.

The ball ended up in Smith’s hands twice, but unlike their thriller in the Southern Conference tournament final — which ended with a game-winning 30-foot heave by David Jean-Baptiste — there would be no last-second heroics.


Chattanooga’s attempt to win its first game in the tournament since 1997 — when it was a 14 seed and knocked off Illinois on the way to the Sweet 16 — ended when Hawkins grabbed his eighth and final rebound.


No. 3 Texas Tech 97, No. 14 Montana State 62

SAN DIEGO — Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 20 points and set a dominating tone in the opening minutes for Texas Tech, which overwhelmed Montana State with one of the best-shooting games in the first round since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

Bryson Williams also scored 20 points for Texas Tech (26-9), which shot 66.7% (36 for 54) from the field, including making 12 of 20 three-point tries. At one point, the Red Raiders were trending toward breaking Syracuse’s record of 67.9% (38 for 56) against Southern Illinois in 1995. They settled for a tie for fourth.

Texas Tech, the No. 3 seed in the West Regional, was too big, quick and talented for the Bobcats (27-8), who were making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1996. The Red Raiders will play 11th-seeded Notre Dame in the second round.

The Big Sky champion Bobcats won the opening tipoff, and Shannon welcomed them back to March Madness by blocking Amin Adamu’s shot. Two possessions later, Shannon hit the first of his three-pointers in the first four minutes to erase Montana State’s only lead.


UCLA avoided an ugly tradition, just barely, when the Bruins came back to beat Akron on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

March 17, 2022

Xavier Bishop led Montana State with 12 points.

The Red Raiders led 18-4 less than five minutes in after hitting four three-pointers, blocking two shots and forcing the Bobcats into a shot-clock violation.

Texas Tech took a 52-25 halftime lead, using a swarming defense to feed an impressive combination of threes and inside shots. Kevin Obanor worked the baseline for two reverse layups and had a slam dunk.


No. 6 Texas 81, No. 11 Virginia Tech 73

MILWAUKEE — Andrew Jones scored 21 points, Marcus Carr beat the halftime buzzer with a shot from well beyond half court to put Texas ahead for good, and the Longhorns beat Virginia Tech for their first NCAA tournament victory since 2014.

The sixth-seeded Longhorns (22-11) advance to a second-round East Regional game Sunday against No. 3 seed Purdue. The Boilermakers trounced Yale on Friday.

After Virginia Tech’s Storm Murphy made two free throws with 2.1 seconds left in the first half to give the Hokies a 32-31 lead, Carr got about one-third of the way up the court before banking in a buzzer-beating three-pointer.


Carr had taken just a couple of steps beyond the three-point arc on the opposite end of the floor and hadn’t even reached the “S” on the “March Madness” logo when he launched his shot.

Texas built on the momentum from that improbable basket and led by 17 with 5½ minutes left. Virginia Tech’s Hunter Cattoor sank a three-pointer with 45 seconds left to cut Texas’ lead to 76-69, but the Hokies couldn’t get any closer.

Carr had 15 points and Timmy Allen added 14 for Texas, which went 10 for 19 from three-point range while ending a five-game tournament losing streak.

That’s just what the Longhorns were seeking last year when they hired coach Chris Beard, a former Texas student manager who led Texas Tech to the national championship game in 2019.

Beard improved to 5-0 in NCAA tournament first-round games. That record includes a 2016 game in which he led a 12th-seeded Little Rock team to a double-overtime victory over Purdue.


Virginia Tech’s Sean Padulla scored 19 points, with 13 coming in the last 4½ minutes. The Hokies (23-13) had played their way into the NCAA field by winning their first Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title.


No. 3 Purdue 78, No. 14 Yale 56

MILWAUKEE — Jaden Ivey raced his way to 22 points and Zach Edey controlled the action inside, helping Purdue overpower Yale.

Ivey, one of the fastest players in college basketball, went three for six from three-point range and seven for nine at the free-throw line in 27 minutes. The 7-foot-4 Edey made the most of his size advantage against the Ivy League champions, finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes.

With Ivey dashing up and down the court and Edey towering over the lane, Purdue (28-7) won its NCAA tournament opener for the fourth time in its last five tournaments. The lone exception occurred last year, when Purdue was upset by 13th-seeded North Texas in the first round.

The overtime loss to the Mean Green seemed like a distant memory as the Boilermakers pulled away from the Bulldogs at the beginning of the second half. Next up is Texas in the second round of the East Regional on Sunday.


Azar Swain scored 18 points on eight-for-19 shooting for Yale (19-12), which had won 11 of 13.


No. 5 Houston 82, No. 12 Alabama Birmingham 68

PITTSBURGH — Houston looks like a problem again.

A Final Four team a year ago, the Cougars played like a group capable of making another deep run this March as they opened the NCAA tournament with a win over Alabama Birmingham.

Offensively, Houston can light up the scoreboard with highlight-reel plays. Defensively, these Cougars are pretty ferocious cats.

“Their reputation precedes them,” UAB coach Andy Kennedy said. “They give you nothing easy. They’re tenacious off the glass. They’re disruptive.”

They’re moving on.

Kyler Edwards scored 25 points, Fabian White Jr. added 14, and Houston’s defense clamped down in the second half to make things even tougher on UAB’s leading scorer, Jordan “Jelly” Walker, who made one of 10 three-point tries.


Edwards, who played three years at Texas Tech before transferring to Houston this season, made six six-pointers — the last an exclamation point in the final minute — and controlled the fast tempo along with Jamal Shead, who had seven assists.

The Cougars (30-5) advanced in the South Regional and will play fourth-seeded Illinois on Sunday for a spot in the Sweet 16. The Fighting Illini rallied to beat Chattanooga and avoid a second straight early-round exit.

Houston doesn’t have a starter left from last year’s team, which lost to eventual champion Baylor. But that’s hardly declawed the Cougars, who have won 10 of 11 — nine by double digits.

Coach Kelvin Sampson brought in Edwards and has two other transfer starters — Taze Moore (Cal State Bakersfield) and Josh Carlton (Connecticut). The Cougars are experienced and tournament-tested, even if some of them got it at other schools.

The Blazers (27-8) did all they could to stay close, but any time UAB threatened, the Cougars answered.


Walker, a speedy guard, had a rough night. He finished with 17 points on six-for-18 shooting and had five turnovers.


No. 2 Villanova 80, No. 15 Delaware 60

PITTSBURGH — Justin Moore scored 21 points, Collin Gillespie added 14, and Villanova had little trouble with Delaware, beating the Blue Hens.

The Wildcats (27-7) used a 35-10 surge spanning the end of the first half and the start of the second to turn an eight-point deficit into a blowout. Villanova will meet Ohio State in the second round of the South Regional on Sunday. The No. 7 seed Buckeyes unleashed their defense and downed Loyola Chicago 54-41 in the first of four games at PPG Paints Arena.

Delaware (22-13) showed some early fight against its northern neighbor in a meeting of programs separated by 43 miles on the map and considerably more in the college basketball landscape.

It wasn’t nearly enough as Villanova overwhelmed the Blue Hens under a barrage of three-pointers to begin the school’s quest for a third national title in seven seasons.


Jyare Davis led Delaware with 17 points, but over the course of 40 minutes, Villanova exposed the considerable gulf between schools that are bitter rivals in several sports. Jameer Nelson Jr., the son of the former St. Joseph’s and NBA star who regularly battled the Wildcats as part of the city’s Big Five, was limited to eight points on three-for-13 shooting.

Early on, the Colonial Athletic Association champion Blue Hens didn’t show any nerves or fear against one of the sport’s blue bloods.

Of course, it might have helped that graduate forward Dylan Painter began his career at Villanova before transferring to Delaware and knows the Wildcats inside and out.

Painter’s lay-in gave Delaware an early 15-8 lead, easing anxiety that the stage would be too big.

Eventually, however, reality set in.